The Oscars race is off with a historical night at the Gotham Independent Film Awards in New York on Monday (28Nov11) - for the first time in the event's 21-year history two films have tied for Best Feature.
Terrence Malick's Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner Tree of Life shared the 2011 Gotham award with Mike Mills' acclaimed Beginners.
Malick's film follows the fortunes of two young boys brought up by a strict, brutal and demanding father, played by Brad Pitt, while Beginners stars Ewan MCGregor as a man trying to come to terms with the fact his gay father, played by Christopher Plummer, has terminal cancer.
Beginners also picked up the Best Ensemble award at the New York prizegiving, held at Cipriani Wall Street.
The other winners were Felicity Jones, who won Breakthrough Actor for Like Crazy, Dee Rees (Breakthrough Director for Pariah), Better This World (Best Documentary) and Scenes of a Crime (Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You).
George Clooney's Oscars favourite The Descendants and writer/director Sean Durkin's acclaimed Martha Marcy May Marlene were surprise non-winners - both films missed out on the three trophies they were nominated for, which included Breakthrough Actor and Best Ensemble.
The Descendants was also up for Best Feature, while Durkin lost out to Rees in the Breakthrough Director category.
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.